On the skill development front

March 31, 2024

Enhancing the quality, accessibility and inclusivity of vocational training programmes

On the skill development front


Gulmina Bilal Ahmad, the first female chairperson of Pakistan’s National Vocational and Technical Training Commission, is determined to spearhead transformative change that can lead to enhanced coordination, effective monitoring and increased employability for the graduates of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector in the country.

Established in 2005, under the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, the NAVTTC has a pivotal role in regulating and managing the TVET sector in Pakistan. With a mandate to promote, facilitate, regulate and strategise the entire TVET system, the NAVTTC aims to bridge the gap between demand and supply of skilled labour, enhance social and economic profiles and contribute to national human resource development.

Under Gulmina’s leadership, the NAVTTC has embarked on various initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality, accessibility and inclusivity of vocational training programs across Pakistan. One such initiative is the recently launched Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Initiative, aimed at equipping young individuals with essential skills aligned with market demands. Introducing biometric attendance, CCTV monitoring and third-party evaluations for the first time, the NAVTTC is ensuring transparency, credibility and quality in its training programmes.

In an interview with The News on Sunday, Gulmina Bilal says that the NAVTTC is primarily a regulatory body. “Accreditation, registration, quality standards and national and international certification of country’s entire Technical and Vocational Education and Training, either in the private or public sector, is our mandate. We have authorities in every province.”

Talking about the steps taken by the NAVTTC to effectively regulate the extensive set up of technical training institutes around the country, she says that “introduction of biometric attendance, CCTV monitoring and third-party evaluations are all part of the effort to enhance transparency and strengthen the monitoring of these institutes responsible to generate a skilled human resource for the country as well as for abroad.”

Moreover, she says the NAVTTC is actively engaged in fostering coordination among provincial Technical Education and Vocational Training Authorities to avoid duplication of resources and enhance efficiency. “The establishment of the KVET steering committee, comprising representatives from all provinces, underscores the commitment to harmonising efforts for the advancement of TVET in Pakistan. Recently we conducted a virtual meeting of all DGs. We believe that coordination and interaction can lead to optimal use of resources,” she says.

The chairperson says currently, the NAVTTC and the TEVTAs are providing training in more than 53 trades or skills. “All these courses are free. If some is charging money, that is completely illegal. A compliant should be made against such elements through the helpline or social media,” she says. She adds that the NAVTTC social media handles are very active in information dissemination as well as in complaints registration.

Gulmina says recognising the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, the NAVTTC has launched the groundbreaking ‘She Fixes’ (#theekkardungi) initiative on International Women’s Day. “This initiative aims to empower women by offering condensed vocational training courses in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as plumbing and electrical work. The overwhelming response, with over 1300 applications within 8 days, reflects the programme‘s significance in advancing gender parity and economic inclusion.”

She says that after condensed vocational training in these skills, women are able to start their local setups and can earn by providing their services within their communities. Later, they can join detailed course which prepare them for jobs abroad. “The initiative aims to empower 500 women by offering accessible vocational training in these fields. This initiative is a catalyst for gender equality, fostering self-reliance and independence. It begins with fixing household appliances, transcending into empowering women to address broader societal issues.”

Furthermore, she says the NAVTTC is pioneering efforts to support micro-entrepreneurship through its TVET Skill Start-up programme. “By providing mentorship and incubation support to graduates, the NAVTTC aims to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, thereby contributing to economic growth and job creation.”

In addition to skill development, the chairperson says the NAVTTC prioritises the recognition of prior learning through its Recognition of Prior Learning programme, enabling individuals with relevant experience to obtain formal certification. “This initiative not only validates workers’ skills but also enhances their employability both domestically and internationally.”

Gulmina says that the NAVTTC is committed to addressing the needs of marginalised communities, including persons with disabilities and transgender individuals. “Through partnerships with organisations advocating for disability rights, the NAVTTC is working to make vocational training programmes more accessible and inclusive. Efforts are under way to make NAVTTC certificates braille recognized and the website voice-enabled. Course curricula are being tailored to accommodate the needs of PWDs and explore innovative training methods, such as gamification, to enhance learning experiences.”

The NAVTTC’s collaboration with international partners, such as Takamul, underscores its commitment to ensuring the quality and integrity of Pakistan’s workforce globally. Takamul is a skill verification programme initiated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to regulate its labour market and test the skills of the workforce to ensure that the worker acquires the necessary skills to perform the job. It provide them with internationally recognised skill certification which is mandatory for the skill visas for employment in the KSA.

“The implementation of Takamul’s certification programme not only enhances the employability of Pakistani workers in overseas markets but also safeguards against exploitation and fraudulent practices. By establishing Takamul centres nationwide, the NAVTTC aims to streamline the migration process for skilled labour and uphold international standards of competence and professionalism,” says Gulmina. In parallel, she says, the NAVTTC’s online job portal, Next, serves as a platform for connecting trained individuals with employment opportunities both domestically and internationally.

“With a robust regulatory framework, enhanced monitoring mechanisms and strategic partnerships with industry stakeholders, the NAVTTC is poised to revolutionise the TVET landscape in Pakistan,” says chairperson Gulmina Bilal.

The writer is a reporter for The News International

On the skill development front